Poor air quality is a significant threat to human health. As a growing body of evidence refines our understanding of the health effects of air pollution, a number of developments have highlighted weaknesses in current air quality management in Australia, including an increasing reliance on road transport, the expansion of mining and polluting industries, and the compounding effects of climate change and extreme weather on poor air quality.
The AMA believes that the policy and regulatory responses to these challenges need to be strengthened. In its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Health Impacts of Air Quality, the AMA identifies critical gaps in Australia’s air quality standards, monitoring frameworks, and associated policies.
Current air quality standards have failed to keep pace with scientific evidence, and key sources of hazardous air pollutants are not subject to routine or independent monitoring. Poor enforcement of existing standards, fragmentations between different sectors and tiers of government, and the lack of exposure targets are but some of the areas requiring review and reform. Further problems arise from the lack of robust occupational health and safety standards, the absence of regulations for off-road diesel engines, and the general failure to factor air pollution and health considerations into urban planning, transport policies, and development approval processes.